With that in mind, I’ve decided to start at the very beginning… Well obviously not THAT beginning or we’ll be here all day!
The beginning of a painting, actually the semi-beginning of a painting…
You know when you start to write a post and you think let’s start at the beginning with choosing a paper. And you start to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard!) and you realise that the beginning may very well be the subject matter, not the paper!!!!
Choosing Your Subject
It’s a chicken and egg kind of thing really. Subject Matter or Paper? You may have a burning desire to paint a particular image. Perhaps you really, really want to paint your best friends chicken because it’s their birthday. I mean they have EVERYTHING but they really love their chickens!
Let’s assume for argument’s sake (and to attempt to mitigate any further rabbit holes I may dive down) that you know what you want to paint…
There are some practical considerations for paper choice.
These are my views only based on my experience and messing about with various papers!
Choosing Your Paper, Velour Or Pastelmat Paper?
Having spent many years painting with pastels, it’s my opinion that it helps to stick to one or two types of paper. This way you know how the paper reacts and your level of painting improves dramatically.
I use two different types of paper, Pastelmat and Velour. Both hold the pastel pigment well and can take many layers of pastel and some pretty rough blending.
Pastelmat has a toothy grain to it which grips onto the pastel and holds it. The downside to this is to give a smooth blend you have to really work the pastel into the paper. Which due to the surface of the paper can leave you minus your fingerprints!!!
Pastelmat can also take water, therefore, is fabulous for mixed media work. In the painting below I used a gouache wash for some of the background.
The other aspect of Pastelmat is its smoothness which makes it perfect for scaled animals, birds and people.
If you’re looking to paint fur, in my opinion, nothing beats Velour paper! The paper itself is so touchable!! It has a velvet texture which gives a whole new dimension to animal portraits.
Don’t be put off by the texture of the paper. You can really work the pastel in to blend colours together provided you use a rounded blender or your fingertip!
The paper is fantastic with soft pastels such as Sennelier or Unison as they don’t make permanent grooves on the surface.
Soft backgrounds with a slightly blurred effect also work really well on velour.
Just don’t get it wet! This flattens the fibres of the paper and makes it unusable. It’s also worth noting that it also ‘dents’ therefore only use pencils or hard blenders when you want a permanent mark left i.e. to emphasise fur details.
Sketching designs onto Velour needs to be done with care and very little pressure, therefore, I trace pre-sketched images on using charcoal, feel free to experiment but do so gently!
I hope this has given some insights into why I choose the papers I choose – take a look at my youtube channel to see the papers some more!!
If you need to order some pastelmat or velour paper then you can’t go wrong with Jacksons. Place your first order by clicking the image below and receive 10% off your order. *new customers only